In 2016, Hennessy began releasing one-off special editions called the Master Blender’s Selection. Master Blender’s Selection No. 1 and No. 2 were both well received, and now No. 3 continues the line, “a blend composed exclusively of high-quality eaux-de-vie with great potential that have been set aside specifically to be used at the Master Blender’s discretion.” Most notably, this is the first blend from 8th generation Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde, who recently succeeded his uncle Yann Fillioux in the role.
Hennessy provided significant information about the unique barrel regimen for No. 2 when it was released last year, but details are light for this release. This third annual incarnation does have the same higher abv, though, and the company notes that all spirits in the bottle are at least 7 years old.
Let’s give No. 3 a try.
Traditional on the nose, the Cognac features the more typical brandy notes of cedar box, rum raisin, dark brown sugar, and a mix of huskier baking spices. More incense-forward than most on the nose and the palate, the brandy offers a strong mulled wine note on the tongue, with notes of almonds, vanilla, chocolate, and plenty of dried fruits on the back end. Stoutly constructed, it’s nonetheless surprisingly dry given the surfeit of fruit notes, never coming across as overly sweet or cloying.
Compared to No. 2, which I’m fortunate to still have on hand, it’s quite a different experience. No. 2 is much more savory, woody, and earthy, a more whiskeylike experience compared to No. 3’s more classical Cognac construction. I like them both equally well in the end — but I have to say, a side by side comparison is the best way to experience them.